We had a few dogs growing up but they weren’t really mine. They belonged to my mom. One dog died when I was very little and two others came into our lives when I was a teenager and rarely home long enough to spend much time with them. I have no memory of cleaning up after them, feeding them, or taking them to the vet. That was all on my mom. While I was away at college, my mom had to give up her dog because she was moving. Although I felt sad for her, it didn’t really faze me at all.
When I met the Dude, he often talked about his family dogs. He treated all of his dogs like they were his siblings and, whenever a dog passed away, it was devastating for the entire family. I was moved by their dog stories, but I didn’t really get it. However, the Dude and his family loved their dogs and I knew that to be married into this family meant having a dog of our own one day. It took me a while to get used to that idea.
I really did like dogs, but I didn’t necessarily like the idea of one living with me. They shed, they bark, they drool, they chew and, in general, they’re a big responsibility. Plus, we were living in a San Francisco apartment and I didn’t want a dog living in such a cramped space without a backyard. Then we had our Monkey and there was no way I was going to take on a new dog with an infant in the apartment.
By the time the Monkey turned 2 and we had already moved into a house, I finally came around to the idea that a dog would be a good idea. I had no doubt that a dog to grow up with would be an incredible experience for our kid. But when a few rescue agencies did their home inspection and informed us that it would take a long time to place a dog with us because of our toddler, I began to lose interest again. Yet, over the course of the next year, it became more and more evident that the Monkey loved dogs. He was fascinated by them. I could no longer refuse my kid the opportunity to grow up with his own dog.
A few months after the Monkey turned 3, and after much research, we found our ideal dog. The Portuguese Water Dog. Yes, just like that adorable dog in the White House. The PWD doesn’t shed, loves water (obviously), is great with kids, is incredibly smart and trainable, and doesn’t get that big – 50 to 60 pounds max. Sure, we were told that the puppy stage lasts a bit longer than other breeds, that they are very “mouthy”, and also jabber-jaw to communicate, but I felt those were all things I could deal with…kinda.
We brought Noah home in March when he was about 8 weeks old and 8 pounds. He was very much a puppy. He pooped and peed everywhere, chewed on everything, and would steal the Monkey’s toys. The Monkey was not amused. In fact, he really didn’t enjoy him very much for the first few months and would shy away from him. It was strange to see my son, who loved to chase 80 pound Labradors around, be a little nervous about a small furry creature under 10 pounds. It was like there was a Gremlin living in our house. And one who wasn’t even house-trained, to boot.
As for me, I quickly came to the conclusion that bringing a puppy home was nearly as challenging as a newborn baby. We would have to wake up a few times during the night to take him outside and also deal with multiple daily accidents. We couldn’t leave Noah alone for very long for several months. He would jump up on the table and steal food. He chewed a few rugs, table legs, two electronics cords, a duvet cover, and countless toys. Now at 7 months old, he still jumps too much and occasionally chews the wrong things, but we’ve recently hired a trainer to help us with those issues. I also had to get used to the fact that I will never be able to keep my dark hardwood floors as clean as before. I’m still getting used to that.
It was quite an adjustment to have a dog in the family, but it’s safe to say that we are now a dog-family. The Monkey went from running away from the tiny fur-ball to pouncing on the now 40 pound dog as if he was Hulk Hogan. The dog will sometimes run away from the kid these days, but it’s pretty obvious that they adore one another. I often find them snuggling on the couch together and Noah tends to end up on the Monkey’s bed during the night. It’s a beautiful thing. As for me, I can’t imagine living without Noah. As a stay-at-home mom, Noah is mostly my responsibility. I feed him, clean up after him, walk him, and take him to the vet. In turn, he follows me everywhere and gives me, as well as the Dude and the Monkey, unconditional love.
I recently told the Dude that Noah is just another reason why we could never divorce – because I am unwilling to ever give him up. It really hit me in that moment that I have officially become a dog person. It was about time.